HTC Vive launch title developer breaks down difficulties of making money from VR

In light of DayZ creator Dean Hall's recent scathing overview of virtual reality development, another game developer has spoken out about the perils of designing games and, crucially, making money from VR. 

Eerie Bear Games' Joe Radak tells a similarly cautionary tale in relation to his own experiences with HTC Vive launch title Light Repair Team #4. Despite favourable Steam reviews—not to mention a modest $8 price tag—Radak reckons he's lost more than $36,000 on the project and, free of NDAs and contractual obligations that many other devs are tied to, has now laid bare the financial implications of creating virtual reality videogames. 

Radak's findings are obviously particular to his circumstances, however he covers everything from salary costs, setting up a company and legal fees, server rental, commissioning music, and circumstantial extras such as office supplies, office rental, and virtual reality headsets in the event you're not privy dev kits. 

"After all that, how much did LRT4 earn us?" asks Radak. About 2,300 units sold and $14,000 in revenue for the company (not including taxes and other royalty payments we have to pay). If you look at even the 'cheapest' way of budgeting developers (cheapest in hindsight), the way you should never do, it still wasn’t profitable. Additionally, after the April launch of the Vive, we did launch a few more update over the next few months — so more money spent there, that I didn’t even account for.

"Now, this is just our game — other games have different budgets, but I’m certain a lot of them aren’t making their money back, truly. Even with Survios announcing that it earned a million dollars a few months back, I’d be surprised if they really turned a profit."

Radak continues to say that VR has not paid off financially for he and Eerie Bear Games, and that it most likely hasn't paid off for a number of other developers in similar positions. 

He adds: "We took a risk. Actually, every VR developer is taking a risk. From the viewpoint of a business person, VR developers are stupid, idiotic and reckless. And for VR, that's fucking beautiful. You 100 percent need to be all those if you want to succeed in VR. If people weren’t being reckless and if it wasn’t for companies like Oculus or Intel shoving money at developers to soften the financial blows, VR would not last long at all. Period. End of story.

"The next time you see a developer announce that they’re an Oculus exclusive, or has received money from a company so that they can promote their product in their game, or whatever may happen next, keep this in mind: They’re not trying to hurt the consumer, they’re enabling themselves and more importantly, VR."

Radak's insights can be read in full via this Medium post